May 17, 1940 (19th Parliament, 1st Session)


James Sinclair


Mr. JAMES SINCLAIR (Vancouver North):

Mr. Speaker, in rising to second the resolution which has just been moved by the hon. member for Lotbiniere (Mr. Hugues Lapointe), I must confess that I have never before been so aware of my own limitations as after hearing his brilliant and eloquent address. The right hon. Minister of Justice (Mr. Ernest Lapointe), during his long and distinguished career in Canadian public service, has enjoyed many great personal triumphs, but I know that none has ever made him feel prouder or happier than he is at this moment, after hearing his son so ably begin what will undoubtedly be a parliamentary career as long and successful as that of his distinguished father.
May I offer to you, Mr. Speaker, my congratulations upon your election by this honourable house to the distinguished position which you now occupy. What little confidence I may possess this afternoon is because of my consciousness that I can seek shelter and sanctuary in these somewhat strange surroundings under the sway of your kindly Doric.
May I also, if indeed that be not temerity, offer my sincere felicitations to the leader of the opposition (Mr. Hanson) upon the honour that his party has conferred upon him. I am assured that his great gifts will be a real asset to his party, to this parliament and to our country.
May I in a special way thank the right hon. the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) for the honour he has done my constituents in Vancouver North in selecting me to second the motion for an address in reply to the speech from the throne. On their behalf, too, may I congratulate him on becoming Prime Minister for the fifth time. Four years ago he was elected to office by the mandate of the Canadian people, supported by the greatest majority ever accorded to any Canadian Prime Minister. To-day, after an election fought solely on his administration since that time, we find him returned to office with a majority surpassing even that of 1935.
The Address

Mr. Sinclair

No words of mine, nor for that matter no words of the most able and eloquent member of this house, could so strikingly testify to his outstanding qualities of leadership as did the collective voice of the Canadian people from Cape Breton to Nootka sound when it spoke on the 26th day of March of this year. The record of his administrations and the repeated and overwhelming approval given to him by the people of Canada mark the Prime Minister as our greatest leader since confederation.
All Canada was saddened this spring by the death of the governor general, Lord Tweedsmuir. We have always been fortunate in the calibre of the men who have held this high office, and it is neither an exaggeration nor a reflection to say that none was as highly and as warmly regarded by the common people of Canada as was Lord Tweedsmuir. Of humble parentage, he won his education in a manner which is traditional with Scottish scholars, by bursaries at Glasgow university, by fellowships at Oxford. His administrative ability was early recognized, and he went to South Africa as one of that group of brilliant young men who were trained for public service by Lord Milner. Then came literature-fiction, history, and, above all, incomparable biography.
He served with distinction in the great war, and afterwards returned to public life as a member of the mother of parliaments. When he came to Canada we already felt that we knew him well through his books, and soon we all had a chance to see and hear and meet him. We saw him in our great cities; we saw him in the pioneer settlements on our distant frontiers; we saw him in the small communities which are the real Canada, and we marvelled at his untiring industry and his burning desire to know our country from coast to coast and our people through and through.
He had the same great love of the outdoors that so many Canadians have, and we from British Columbia are proud to think that the mountains and valleys, the lakes and streams, and the great forests and the broad ranges of Tweedsmuir park will be forever a fitting and ever green memorial to this man whom I can *rightly call a great Canadian. The man who was bom John Buchan, a son of the manse, .and who died the first Baron Tweedsmuir, a great proconsul of a great empire, may best be described in the words he himself used of Lincoln:
He conducted the ordinary business of life in phrases of homespun simplicity, but when necessary he could attain a nobility of speech and a profundity of thought which have rarely 'been equalled. He was a plain man, loving
fMr. Sinclair.]
his fellows and happy among them, but when the crisis came he could stand alone. He could talk with crowds and keep his virtue; he could preserve the common touch and yet walk with God.
I know, Mr. Speaker, that you will understand me when I say that we who hail from the far west felt a very natural pride yesterday when parliament was opened by the Administrator, Chief Justice Sir Lyman Duff. This great jurist, who by his profound learning has brought added dignity and prestige to his high office, first achieved recognition in the fair city of Victoria.
The people of Canada look forward with the greatest pleasure to welcoming the new governor general, the Earl of Athlone, and his gracious lady, when they come to our shores in the near future. It is a curious coincidence that the noble earl should come to us at this time; for twenty-six years ago, just before our entry into the last war, he was designated our governor general. At that time he asked to be excused so that he could go on service in France, and throughout that war he served with great valour and distinction. Subsequently he became the governor general of South Africa and he so completely captured the hearts of the people of our sister dominion that they asked him to remain for a second term. We are indeed fortunate to have this great soldier and statesman as governor general during the dark days ahead.
I understand that it is the privilege of the member performing this pleasant task to say a few words about his own constituency. Vancouver North, the riding which I have the honour to represent, is not as its name suggests, a part of the great city of Vancouver. It lies to -the east, to the north and .to the northwest of that city, extending from the banks of the Fraser river across to Burrard inlet, and then up the coast for some two hundred miles. I feel quite safe in saying that it is the most diversified industrial riding in British Columbia, containing as it does logging camps, sawmills, pulp and paper mills, the greatest copper mine in the British empire, shipyards, oil refineries, railway shops, extensive salmon and cod fisheries, quarries, grain elevators and a number of manufacturing plants.
The chief problem of this riding has always been to find world markets for the many products of its industries. In no part of this country have the trade expansion policies of the preceding administration been of such immediate and practical benefit, and the people of my riding are keenly appreciative of the great efforts of the government in this connection. In recent months the war has considerably increased the demand for the

The Address-Mr. Sinclair
products of my riding, but unfortunately it is becoming exceedingly difficult to secure adequate cargo space to transport these goods to overseas markets. In the timber industry especially this condition has become serious, and it is my hope that the government will soon consider measures looking to its alleviation.
My riding also includes three of the loveliest suburbs of Vancouver, but I regret to say that two of these municipalities are in the hands of receivers. It is the feeling of the residents of North Vancouver that their financial difficulties are mainly due to the action taken in removing most of the taxable waterfront in North Vancouver from the municipal assesssment rolls, and to the operation by a national agency of the Second Narrows bridge which was built and financed by the people of this district. At a later date I hope to draw the attention of the government to these matters in greater detail.
My riding has one other important asset, one which I believe is often claimed for other ridings. I believe that nowhere in Canada is there such a magnificent and varied display of scenic grandeur as is to be found on the coast of British Columbia. Our snow-capped mountains, our beautiful lakes and streams; our matchless coastline indented with innumerable great bays and deep fiords and dotted with countless islands; our unexcelled hunting, fishing, mountaineering and ski-ing, and above all, our salubrious climate, which is the envy of all Canada, serve to make the coast of British Columbia the mecca of tourists and sportsmen from all comers of the globe.
Transcending and overshadowing every other issue before this house, Mr. Speaker, is the war in which the British and French nations are engulfed. This war is not of our seeking, but is a conflict which was forced upon us when it became apparent that the brutalities, the treacheries and the aggressions of nazi Germany directed against its small and defenceless neighbours were destroying the peace of the entire world and could not be curbed by mere appeals for decency and tolerance and justice or by the ordinary processes of international law. To preserve the rights for which our forefathers fought and died since magna charta, the people of Canada, speaking through their freely chosen representatives assembled in parliament, decided that the time had come to meet force with force. Some two months ago the people of Canada approved the united war effort of the preceding administration. The people of Canada now expect this government to press forward with all the resources at their command to help our allies bring this dreadful conflict to a speedy and successful conclusion.
There were some who believed that complete neutrality should be Canada's attitude; they cited the long and successful neutrality of the Scandinavian and low countries as proof of the wisdom of that course. The terrible events of the last month .must have proved a rude awakening to these people.
The preceding administration was elected in peace time, to govern this country in peace time. Long before the war clouds began to gather in Europe, we are proud to remember that despite vigorous opposition this government began to build up our national defences and to prepare the skeleton organization for the control of the economic resources of this country should war develop. We on the Pacific coast have had a better opportunity than most people in other parts of Canada to see and appreciate the great work of the Department of National Defence in providing us with an adequate system of coastal defences. The people of Vancouver Centre recently showed their approval in no uncertain terms of the man chiefly responsible for that program of coast defence.
The present government takes over its duties refreshed and invigorated by the overwhelming mandate of the people of Canada, and is directly charged with the great task of immediately supplying the .maximum military, financial and economic aid to our allies in this death struggle. I am sure that in this house to-day partisanship will be cast aside and members of all parties will devote all their energies to assisting the government in this great task.
Mention is made in the speech from the throne of increased taxation to assist in financing the war. I think everyone in Canada realized that increased taxation must come. I am sure that today no one objects, because everyone understands only too clearly that if we lose this war, we lose everything. No financial sacrifice can equal that of those who are leaving homes and loved ones behind and offering their lives for their country.
Second only in importance to our great war effort is the planning for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of this country after the war is won. It has been said that no peace-loving democracy is ever adequately prepared for war. It is surely equally true that a democracy at war should plan and prepare for peace.
There has been another bitter struggle fought in this country during the last ten years, a struggle which has been waged, grimly and silently, in far too many Canadian homes. I refer to the never-ending struggle against unemployment, poverty and disease, against old age haunted by the fear of want; the struggle of the youth of the
The Address-Mr. Sinclair

country who have been frustrated in a desperate search for gainful employment. These are the enemies which destroyed the struggling post-war democracies of central Europe; these are the foes we must conquer in the post-war years if Canada is to survive as a free country.
The measures adopted by the preceding administration to combat these conditions were proving increasingly successful in peace time. I need mention only briefly the expanding markets provided by their trade policies; the beginning of a national forestry plan through dominion-provincial forestry camps; assistance in the development of tourist and mining roads and trails; vocational training in the cities and farm training in rural areas for our young people; municipal assistance, the National Housing Act, home improvement loans, and numerous great public works projects. This programme must of necessity be greatly extended and expanded to meet the needs of the post-war years.
We must plan to reconstruct not only our industrial and economic organizations but also the social structure of this nation. It has been increasingly apparent in recent years that grave difficulties in government are occasioned by the present division of responsibility among the federal, provincial and municipal authorities. The British North America Act was drawn up in 1S67 to meet the needs of the Canada of that time, a Canada vastly different from the Canada of to-day; a Canada, for example, in which our present chief problem, unemployment, did not exist. It is high time that the constitution of Canada was revised to bring it abreast of present conditions in this modern changing world. It is a matter of satisfaction, therefore, that the report of the royal commission on dominion-provincial relations has been tabled, and it is the hope of all Canada that out of the recommendations of this report the framework of a new Canada may be designed which will allow the governments of this country to grapple effectively and efficiently with the problems which will develop in the post-war years.
As the representative of an industrial riding I am gratified to learn from the speech from the throne that an amendment of the British North America Act is being sought to permit the introduction of a national scheme of unemployment insurance. Such legislation will be most welcome in every part of Canada. While it is true that unemployment insurance is no solution of the problem of unemployment, it will serve as a buffer to lessen the shock of unemployment on the individual as well as on the community at large.
Measures for the rehabilitation of our soldiers when demobilized will of necessity, I

think, have to be expanded to include provisions for war workers and others who will be directly or indirectly affected by the cessation of hostilities. The government will probably profit by the experience in the matter of soldiers' civil reestablishment after the last war.
The honour of seconding the address in reply to the speech from the throne is one which any young member may well prize, since it affords 'him an opportunity to speak to the house so soon after his arrival, to felicitate the leaders of his country, to mention briefly the problems of his riding, to review with pride the past accomplishments of his party, and to hold out high hopes for the success Df the program outlined in the speech from the throne. To-day, however, this honour seems singularly unimportant; for the minds of all of us here are heavily burdened with just one thought, the progress of the war in which we are now engaged.
For far too long we have taken for granted the rights and privileges of British subjects, and the vast resources and the boundless opportunities of this land of ours. Now that all of this is in jeopardy we realize that these things are infinitely precious, that life without them would be impossible. Our freedom of speech, our freedom of person, our freedom from racial and religious intolerance, our right to elect freely by secret ballot, our government-all these things will surely perish if we lose this struggle.
Until a month ago it was generally thought that this war was to be a defensive war, a war of exhaustion and attrition in which the economic resources of the nation would eventually be of more value than the military organization. The events of the last month have changed the whole outlook. The German hordes have sw'ept across Denmark and Norway and are now sweeping across the low countries. It is apparent that man power and the material of warfare are the crying needs of our allies, and it is our manifest duty to aid them in this way as speedily as possible, no matter what the cost may be.
Dominating this building in which we sit is a peace tower erected to commemorate the sacrifices of the last war. In that tower is a hall of remembrance to sixty thousand Canadians who gave their lives for their country. Across Canada from coast to coast are tens of thousands of returned soldiers whose lives have been broken by the injuries they sustained in the last war. These are terrible reminders to us of the price other Canadians have paid that we might have this freedom.
This parliament meets in the darkest days since our nation was born. The hopes and the prayers of all Canada are with us to-day.

Royal Canadian Air Force
This is no time for complacency. It is a time for united effort, for ceaseless endeavour; above all, for action, fearless action. This is the time to subordinate all other affairs, to smash away the political bickerings and the departmental red tape which in the past have impeded democratic action. This is the time to mobilize with ruthless speed every resource of this vast country.
We, the Commons of Canada, assembled within these four walls, have the power to do these things, and the people of Canada, who sent us here, expect us to use that power so that we and our allies, with God's aid, may win a peace which will ensure the freedom of the peoples of this world.
On motion of Mr. Hanson (York-Sunbury) the debate was adjourned.
On motion of Mr. Mackenzie King the house adjourned at 4.30 p.m.
Monday, May 20, 1940

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